A K2B story: Traditional wisdom fuelling entrepreneurship
Gayathri Sundar, the sole proprietor of Smartika Home Essentials hails from a joint-family setting in the Salem district, Tamilnadu. Having been raised in a rural, large-family setting, under the warm embrace of parents, grand-parents, aunt & uncles and cousins, her childhood was very enriching in terms of festivities, culture and traditional food specialties that took advantage of seasonal, natural & local produces.
She completed her schooling in Sacred Heart Convent, Yercaud and has fluency in English, Kannada and Tamil. Post marriage, in Dubai, she worked as a CRM Coordinator in Executrain, for 2 years, which was the first step into the working community, that eventually led her into the business world, a decade later. Being in Dubai, away from her native & family, she was missing dearly, the festivities, traditional food specialties and the warmth of elders at home.
After moving back to India to support her husband’s job transfer from UAE, settling down in Chennai, she realized that she could not easily avail some of the traditional cooking supplies. For example, the cold-pressed cooking oils, which she missed in Dubai, even in Chennai she had to source from her home town.
In 2014, with a lot of time at her dispense, in an attempt to become a social-media savvy, she was browsing through the internet. And to her surprise, being in India, she found almost all food recipes & cooking channels, referring to refined oils, rather than cold-pressed oils that her family had been using for decades. Triggered by curiosity, her research clearly surfaced the benefits of cold-pressed oils eclipsed by the commercial relevance of refined oils.
She decided to share an awareness post about the benefits and usage of traditional cold pressed oils. This caught the attention of a few in social media, starting with a healthy exchange of information, some enquiring the availability as well. What started as a friendly gesture to supply a few liters of cold-pressed oils for the interested few, was becoming a steady pipeline of enquiry. At this juncture, when she was considering to resume her career, it was very clear what her inner calling was – To serve a passion with purpose! She was determined to choose a path over a 9-to-5 job and to bridge a void for guilt-free, traditional cooking & food supplies, in the urban space.
It now became her quest to find more such authentic, traditional, long-forgotten recipes and supplies that are functional foods with great health benefits, as opposed to the modern world commercially focused, refined, preservative based fast-foods. How do I enable working mothers to get easy access to such traditionally and functionally steeped supplies?
The result was the humble but well inspired beginning of Smartika Home Essentials in 2014, as an online store.
Today she has about 40 plus traditional food products in her brand and her flagship product, MangoZing is now available in 3500+ modern trade outlets in four states in South India and in four countries today. With the support of her family members that believes in her quest, she continues to actively engage her community that hosts a richer and deeper wealth of hundreds of years of traditional wisdom and healthy living.
Besides offering healthy products, as an ethically and socially responsible food-start-up, her entrepreneurial venture offers work opportunity and financial stability to local women and young students who look out for a platform to prove themselves, plus supports local farmers via procurement of local produces.